State election commission finds no dead voters

In January, Department of Motor Vehicles Executive Director Kevin Shwedo said he'd analyzed state voter ID data and found 953 people had voted after their deaths. Thursday, the South Carolina State Election Commission (SEC) released the results of its investigation into that allegation.

The South Carolina State Election Commission said to investigate all 953 incidents cited by Shwedo would take 1,000 hours of pouring over paper documents all over the state. So, the agency limited its investigation to 207 cases related to the 2010 General Election. The information originally cited by DMV director Shwedo covered 74 separate elections dating back to April 5, 2005.

The director of the SEC reported that in 95% of the cases the agency investigated, no indication was found of a vote being cast in the name of a dead person. In 197 of the 207 cases, the mistake was the result of "clerical errors, bad data matching, errors in assigning voter participation, or voters dying after being issued an absentee ballot," according to the SEC's Thursday news release. The remaining 10 cases had insufficient records.

The SEC has turned over its research to the South Carolina Attorney General's Office and the State Law Enforcement Division.

"This issue has presented an opportunity for the agency to improve its procedures for maintaining the quality of data in the statewide voter registration list," said Marci Andino, SEC Executive Director in the news release. "We look forward to working with the AG, DMV, and the General Assembly to propose changes to state law that will improve the quality of voter registration records and promote confidence in the voting system."

The SEC provided the following breakdown of its investigation:

  • 106 cases were the result of clerical errors by poll managers.

  • 91 cases were name recognition errors such as marking the deceased John Doe, Sr. as voting when John Doe, Jr. actually voted

  • In 6 cases, the poll manager apparently began marking the incorrect voter, realized the mistake, but did not erase the original marks

  • In 5 cases, election officials marked the wrong voter as voting absentee

  • In 3 cases, election officials issued the absentee application in the wrong name

  • 56 cases were the result of bad data matching. In these cases, it appears DMV used only the voter's Social Security number to match against the death file. The voters' names and dates of birth in these cases do not match the names and dates of birth in the death file. In these cases, there is no indication that the voter is deceased.

  • 32 cases were voter participation errors. Voter registration lists marked by poll managers are scanned electronically to record voter participation in each election. Stray marks on the lists and the sensitivity of the automatic scanner can lead to voters erroneously being given credit for voting in an election. In all of these cases, there is no corroborative information on voter registration lists, poll lists, or absentee applications indicating the voter actually voted.

  • 3 cases were the result of absentee ballots being issued to a voter, who then died before Election Day.

  • 10 cases had insufficient information in the record to make a determination:

  • In 7 cases, the signature on the poll list could not be matched to another voter

  • In 2 cases, the poll list is missing, making it impossible to match the signature to another person

  • In 1 case, the signature on the poll list seems to match a voter in another precinct but could not be verified.